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lachenal74693

Strange Meter in ABC file

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I've just com across a slightly strange meter specification in an old ABC file. It is M:4/4l (that's a

lower case 'l', not the digit '1').

 

As far as I can see, this has no effect on the score or on the MIDI playback. I can't find anything

about this in the documentation.

 

Anyone have an idea what this might be for?

 

Thank you.

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Are you sure it’s an L and not a vertical bar ( | )?

 

M:C is 4/4

M:C| 2/2

 

Perhaps someone thought that adding the bar to 4/4 would change it to 2/2. Maybe some software actually allows it.

Edited by David Barnert
Clarified language

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6 hours ago, John Wild said:

I'm inclined to think it is a simple typing error.

I'd be inclined to think the same, but I've seen it several times, sometimes more than once in the same tune (where there is more than one

change of meter).

5 hours ago, David Barnert said:

(1) Are you sure it’s an L and not a vertical bar ( | )?

(2) Perhaps someone thought that adding the bar to 4/4 would change it to 2/2. Maybe some software actually allows it.

(1) Yes it's a lower case 'l' - 80 times, including one embedded meter change ( [M:4/4l] was meant, but it was incorrectly formatted).

(2) And consistently mis-typed the '|' as a 'l'? That's a thought - I've known stranger things happen. I'm inclined to think that your suggestion

that 'some software actually allows it', might well be the answer though(*). Either that, or some sort of personal 'secret code' with a meaning

for the original transcriber.

 

I think they are all going to get edited out...

 

Thanks each - I just wanted to check that I wasn't missing something subtle, but vital...

--------------------------------------------------

(*) Non-standard extensions to a standard language! Some software developers don't know when to leave well enough alone! Every Fortran compiler I ever used had such non-standard

extensions. They were a pain in the neck!

Edited by lachenal74693

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Here is the abc music standard 2.1 (Dec 2011), cued to the section on Meter. It says, in its entirety:

 

Quote

3.1.6 M: - meter

 

The M: field indicates the meter. Apart from standard meters, e.g. M:6/8 or M:4/4, the symbols M:C and M:C| give common time (4/4) and cut time (2/2) respectively. The symbol M:none omits the meter entirely (free meter).

It is also possible to specify a complex meter, e.g. M:(2+3+2)/8, to make explicit which beats should be accented. The parentheses around the numerator are optional.

The example given will be typeset as:


2 + 3 + 2
    8

When there is no M: field defined, free meter is assumed (in free meter, bar lines can be placed anywhere you want).

 

Since you mention that it an old abc file, here is the standard that was in force during the 1990s (v. 1.6).

 

It says nothing different:

M - meter; apart from the normal meters, e.g.   M:6/8  or  M:4/4,
the   symbols  M:C  and  M:C|  give  common  time  and  cut  time
respectively.

As should be no surprise by now, there is no support for the meter specification you mention in either standard.

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18 minutes ago, David Barnert said:

Here is the abc music standard 2.1 (Dec 2011), cued to the section on Meter. It says, in its entirety:

...

As should be no surprise by now, there is no support for the meter specification you mention in either standard.

Which just about wraps it up, I think!

 

I always forget to look at the standard...?

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10 minutes ago, lachenal74693 said:

Which just about wraps it up, I think!

 

But we haven’t yet answered the question of what was intended.

 

Not having seen the file you’re working with, my guess is that 2/2 is more likely than 4/4. Whoever created the file certainly intended something other than 4/4, or they wouldn’t have added the l eighty times. It seems most likely that they saw the vertical bar in the standard and misunderstood it, trying to recreate it by typing a lowercase L.

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2 hours ago, David Barnert said:

But we haven’t yet answered the question of what was intended.

 

Not having seen the file you’re working with, my guess is that 2/2 is more likely than 4/4. Whoever created the file certainly intended something other than 4/4, or they wouldn’t have added the l eighty times. It seems most likely that they saw the vertical bar in the standard and misunderstood it, trying to recreate it by typing a lowercase L.

 

Fair comment. Here's an example. As it happens, it's from a source which no longer exists (or I couldn't

find it just now when I tried to download a fresh copy, which is a pain!). I wasn't actually 'working on it'.

I just spotted it and was curious. That 'l' sure do look like a '|' don't it?

 

Quote

X:1
T:Because He was A Bonny Lass
C:Trad
S:Northumbrian Minstrelsy
M:4/4l
K:G
d2| B3AG2g2 efg2 d3B| c3ed2B2 c2A2A2c2| B3AG2g2 efg2 d3B| c3ed2c2 B2G2G2::\
d2|B2G2d2G2 e2G2d2G2| c3ed2B2 c2A2A2c2|B2G2d2G2 e2G2d2G2| c3ed2c2 B2G2G2:|

 

The only other thing I can think of is that the file has been corrupted ever so slightly at some time...

 

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So, my take on this: It’s notated by someone who really doesn’t understand how music is put together. Listening to it, it’s clearly a 32-bar tune, 8 + 8 + repeats. But if you count the measures in the notation, there’s only half that. Each notated measure is really two measures with a missing bar line in the middle.

 

I would notate it this way because it’s less fussy:

 

X:1
T:Because He was A Bonny Lass
C:Trad
S:Northumbrian Minstrelsy
M:C|
K:G
d2| B3AG2g2 | efg2 d3B| c3ed2B2 | c2A2A2c2| B3AG2g2 | efg2 d3B| c3ed2c2 | B2G2G2::\
d2|B2G2d2G2 | e2G2d2G2| c3ed2B2 | c2A2A2c2|B2G2d2G2 | e2G2d2G2| c3ed2c2 | B2G2G2:|

 

Although in traditional sources you’re more likely to see this:

 

X:1
T:Because He was A Bonny Lass
C:Trad
S:Northumbrian Minstrelsy
M:2/4
L:1/16
K:G
d2| B3A G2g2 | efg2 d3B| c3e d2B2 | c2A2 A2c2| B3A G2g2 | efg2 d3B| c3e d2c2 | B2G2 G2::\
d2|B2G2 d2G2 | e2G2 d2G2| c3e d2B2 | c2A2 A2c2|B2G2 d2G2 | e2G2 d2G2| c3e d2c2 | B2G2 G2:|

 

I don’t see a copy of Northumbrian Minstrelsy online. There’s references to a pdf at thesession.org but the link is broken.

 

I started to wonder: Is that really correct? “He” : “Lass”?

 

Just out of curiosity, I typed “Because He was A Bonny Lass” into the tune search function at abcnotation.com and only found your 4/4l example.

 

Then I tried “Because She was A Bonny Lass.” No hits.

 

Then “Because He was A Bonny Lad.” Bingo!

 

http://abcnotation.com/searchTunes?q=Because+He+was+A+Bonny+Lad&f=c&o=a&s=0

 

Dozens of instances of a tune by that name or similar, and all sound like the abc you posted. Some in G, some in A, some in D, some in 4/4, some in 2/4, some in 2/2.

 

That’s as far as I’m going to take it.

Edited by David Barnert

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4 hours ago, David Barnert said:

(1) So, my take on this: It’s notated by someone who really doesn’t understand how music is put together....

...

(2) I don’t see a copy of Northumbrian Minstrelsy online. There’s references to a pdf at thesession.org but the link is broken.

...

(3) I started to wonder: Is that really correct? “He” : “Lass”?

...

(4) Then “Because He was A Bonny Lad.” Bingo!...Dozens of instances of a tune by that name or similar

...

(5) That’s as far as I’m going to take it.

(1) I did wonder, but I'm always a little reluctant to come to a 'conclusion' like that, because basically,

I'm still a musical numptie - almost everyone knows more about this stuff than me. There is some ABC

stuff out there though which looks a little peculiar, whether you look at it as a musician, or as a programmer...

 

(2) Montreal Sessions web page: http://www.montrealsession.ca/collections/minstrelsy.php

The tunes are presented piecemeal though, not as a single collection.

 

(3) It was the slightly peculiar title which I spotted first - the "Bonny/Bonnie Lad" is what I've known

for about the last 50 years. I only saw the (now notorious) M:4/4l later.

 

(4) Yup! Dozens...

 

(5) Which is a damn sight further than I would have taken it. You must be even more persistent than me...?

 

Ta!

PS. Oh, yes, I think the original source of these occurrences of M:4/4l may be the ABCEdit database? That wasn't where I found the

original example I cited, but most of the others I spotted seemed to be in that database.

Edited by lachenal74693

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